Song of Songs
Natalie Clifton-Griffith and Patrick Hawes in rehearsal.
24 March 2013
St James's Church
Song of Songs is a programme designed to explore a number of themes which come together at this time of the year. In the Christian calendar 25th March is the Feast of the Annunciation or ‘Lady Day’, the day on which the Angel Gabriel visited the Virgin Mary. It was historically the first day of the new year and closely associated therefore with Easter and the birth of new life. This year, the eve of Lady Day is also Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week.
Our programme starts with a sequence of short pieces: the mediaeval carol Angelus ad Virginem, Benjamin Britten’s beautiful Hymn to the Virgin written when he was a 16 year old schoolboy and also his setting for upper voices and harp of There is no Rose of such virtue. The sequence also includes two romantic settings of Ave maris stella by Edvard Greig and Franz Liszt as well as Anton Bruckner’s monumental Ave Maria.
Emanuele d’Astorga was an extremely popular composer of the early Baroque period and his gorgeous setting of Stabat Mater, the Good Friday reflection on the crucifixion through the eyes of Mary, for choir, soloists and strings is a little known gem deserving greater popularity.
The second half of the programme picks up the theme of new life through the love poetry of the Old Testament book, the Song of Solomon. Henry Purcell’s 1677 setting of My beloved spake is one of his masterpieces of choral writing and a delightful evocation of Spring for soloists, strings and chorus.
The same text appears within Patrick Hawes’s Song of Songs. This extremely effective sequence of six songs for high soprano soloist, choir, strings and harp is immediately attractive and has proved popular with choirs and audiences alike. Patrick was born locally and has a strong following in the area. Many will remember the success of Louth Choral Society’s performance of the regional premiere of his Lazarus Requiem in 2008 since when he has undertaken a number of important commissions including the Highgrove Suite for HRH the Prince of Wales.
We extend a very warm invitation to you to join us.
We are delighted to welcome back soprano Natalie Clifton-Griffith who last sang with Louth Choral Society in a performance of Carmina Burana in 2002. Natalie has worked previously with Patrick Hawes and last performed the demanding soprano part in Song of Songs under Patrick’s direction in Winchester Cathedral in September 2012.
Each of our male voice soloists is a recent graduate of the choir of St John’s College, Cambridge and now embarking on their professional careers.
Counter tenor - Oliver El-Holiby
Tenor - Julian Gregory
Baritone - Henry Neill
Bass - Basil McDonald
All girl string quartet Raven have established an enviable reputation amongst classical and modern audiences alike for their remarkable cross-over repertoire.
To quote from their web site - RAVEN are Stephanie Benedetti, Natalie Holt, Rachael Lander and Kirsty Mangan. London’s rock string quartet has taken the nation’s TV and media by storm with their inventive interpretations of the hard-hitting rock tracks that you never expect to hear performed by a string quartet. Their addictively passionate playing style has earned them a host of celebrity fans from the music world and beyond, and a niche of their own in the industry where nobody else braves iconic rock from such an opposite perspective as four raw string instruments.
The quartet was formed in 2007 over a very spicy pizza in Soho. For their first performance, the girls abandoned chairs and music stands and performed Natalie’s original arrangement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – inspired by Nigel Kennedy’s rock ‘n’ roll interpretation – to an astonished Hoxton crowd. They haven’t looked back since. Only three months later and Raven were performing to millions of viewers as the resident string quartet on BBC’s Maestro, helping Blur’s Alex James, drum and bass legend Goldie and eventual winner, broadcaster and comedienne Sue Perkins, to hone their conducting skills.
A worldwide audience of TV viewers saw Raven along with Madness, who performed Our House on the back of a truck driving through the stadium as part of the London Olympic closing ceremony.
Raven have also performed with Patrick Hawes and it is tremendous to have them join us for this concert. See more about them at their website www.ravenquartet.co.uk http://www.youtube.com/user/RavenStringQuartet?feature=watch
Double Bass - Pietro Lusvardi
Swiss born Pietro Lusvardi is a bass player and composer, teaching in the east Riding of Yorkshire. As well as professional engagements as an orchestral player, Pietro has worked in modern jazz groups and has composed for silent films.
Harp - Rowena Bass
Rowena won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where she studied with Marisa Robles. She was a finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition and Principal Harpist in the National Youth Orchestra.
She is a member of English Serenata with whom she performs a wide range of chamber music. She has toured with Scottish Ballet, plays for the Moscow City Ballet and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Chamber organ - Tony Pinel
Tony is our accompanist and assistant musical director. Organist and Master of the Choristers of Grimsby Minster, he is a distinguished organist and recitalist and a much appreciated member of our musical team.
Composer - Patrick Hawes
Lincolnshire born Patrick has enjoyed considerable success with his harmonic musical style. As Gramophone magazine says “Patrick Hawes has carved out a niche as a contemporary composer who writes melodic, atmospheric and, frankly, beautiful music” making him one of the country’s most popular living composers. He works closely with his brother Andrew, a Lincolnshire priest and poet and their collaborations have made for some delightful choral works - not least Song of Songs.
Find out more about Patrick and his work at www.patrickhawes.com